What is sentencing under PC 1170(h)?

In 2011, due to the overcrowding jail problem in California, a new law was passed under PC 1170 that aims to reduce the prison population. Under PC 1170, Judges are now given the power to suspend or split a prison sentence for a person convicted of a crime that would otherwise simply be sentenced to State Prison. Now, the person can be “sentenced” to State Prison but serve that prison sentence in local county jail. County Jail is where people are housed who either have open pending criminal cases, probation violations, or are sentenced to a typical one year or less of custody time. If a person is sentenced to more than one year, they generally are sent to State Prison. So, in other words, a person who is to spend 15 years in custody is sent to State Prison, not County Jail. It’s known as the local county jail because it is located within the county where the offense happened. A person sentenced to State Prison can be sent to any Prison in the State of California, no matter where your case too place.

What is the difference between a Suspended and a Split Prison Sentence?

A suspended sentence is a prison sentence that you don’t actually serve. In other words, you are given an alternative to Prison time, but, with the understanding that you may have several years of a suspended sentence hanging over you. You could, for example, receive a sentence of Felony Probation, and 180 days of County Jail, but also have a 5-year suspended sentence hanging over you. That means, if you violated probation, you could then be sentenced to the 5-years from that suspended sentence. So, the sentence is suspended unless you otherwise violate your terms, and if you do, then that suspended sentence is no longer suspended, but instead imposed, and you would then spend actual custody time in Prison for that sentence.

A split sentence is different than a suspended sentence because it does require some custody time. For a split sentence, it allows you to spend some of your time in county jail, and the remaining time out on house arrest or work release for the remaining part of the sentence. In other words, if you are convicted of a felony that requires a 16-month low term sentence, you would only serve 8 months of actual time in the County Jail, and the remaining 8 months would then be served out of custody on house arrest, for example. In this scenario, you are still serving the sentence, but only half of it is in custody, the remaining is out of custody using a different form of custody (such as an ankle bracelet).

How can I tell if I am eligible for a Split or Suspended Sentence?

For you to be eligible for the benefits under PC 1170, you cannot have been convicted in your case for a serious felony, a violent felony, or a sex offense.

A serious felony can be found here and is found under PC 1192.7.

A violent felony can be found here and is found under PC 667.5.

A sex offense is any sex crime that requires Sex Registration under PC 290(c) and is discussed here.

What are some common charges that are eligible for Split or Suspended Sentencing?

There are numerous crimes, so long as they are not one of the above categories.


Some common ones are:

  1. Statutory Rape PC 261.5
  2. Perjury PC 118
  3. Embezzlement PC 503
  4. False Imprisonment PC 236
  5. Elder Abuse PC 368
  6. Speed Content VC 23109
  7. Identity Theft PC 530.5
  8. Grand Theft Auto PC 487
  9. Receiving Stolen Property PC 496
  10. Vandalism PC 594

This is only a partial list, many other criminal offenses can be eligible for PC 1170 sentencing. Also, simply because your charge is eligible for split sentencing, does not mean your only result in your criminal case is for some kind of Prison Sentence. On many occasions, your attorney can negotiate your case down from a State Prison case, down to a Probationary case. A probationary sentence is a period of supervision instead of going to Prison, where you have a Probation Officer that you check in with, and make sure to keep them updated on your life, working, school, and address. Probation is typically for low-level offenses or people with no criminal history. So, in other words, although you may have a case that can receive a split sentence or a suspended sentence, you can also simply receive probation, without any custody time, or without a suspension of years, that is hanging over you.


Being charged with a felony is never an easy place to be in. You are facing the potential for a loss of freedom, loss of job, and loss of any prospects for yourself. Knowing you are in a bad situation it is important to understand what options you have available to you, and the ability to attempt to minimize whatever exposure you have on your criminal case or the ability to avoid any custody on a suspended sentence under PC 1170. Being charged with a felony can seem hopeless, but with the right defense, a small mistake that could ruin your life can be changed into something you can easily move on from and have a life after your case ends.

We can help you through your felony case, and the best options and defenses available to you in your situation, give us a call at 909-939-7126 at the Inland Empire Criminal Defense. We are located in Ontario.